Many founders of scaleups share one thing in common and that is that they know they won’t be able to build a great business without finding great people. Although founders start with the intent of bringing onboard great talent, there are a number of reasons why reality can be quite different. So if you know you’ll need to get your hiring right, or if it’s an area that isn’t quite living up to your expectation, hear from VenturePath Expert, Alan Furley, as he shares 7 simple steps to help you hire better people as a founder.
We see many candidates excitedly join a scaleup, knowing that they will face hurdles and willing to help the growth, but quickly become despondent and leave because of a lack of transparency about the state of play. Convey your passion about your business but don’t let that turn into false promises and mean you hide from the challenges this new hire might face.
Next time you’re sitting down to interview people for a role, write down the top 3 challenges that the person interviewing is going to face. Ask them how they feel about each of those hurdles, and be honest with them about your concerns about the business and overcoming them.
Act with empathy
Don’t have just one perspective (i.e., yours!) when you’re thinking about your hiring plan, running the risk that you meet great people but fail to engage with them. How much are you thinking about the person who’s being hired and what they care about? How well does the time you spend interviewing reflect that it’s a two-way process?
To help with this, start off each interview by asking the candidate what questions they have and what they most want to know. Answer those questions of course, but if the same ones keep coming up then think about how you could provide some of the answers in your attraction process, for example, in the job description or in your careers section.
Develop an employer brand
What is it about your business that you can shout about? Even if it’s a small team right now, amplify what they say about why they enjoy their work, and you can create a big impact on your ability to attract great talent.
Developing an employer brand is a huge topic that will have to wait till another time.
But what you can do right now is get some content on your website and social media that shows people why they might want to work for you and your scaleup. Make sure you think WIIFM – what’s in it for me (me being them, not you!)
Evaluate your candidate experience
Six hour technical tests, lengthy jargon filled job descriptions, taking two weeks from final interview to making an offer, a slapdash onboarding process – these are all things that will lose you great people. Building on the empathy you’re demonstrating, build a hiring process that is built with the candidate in mind.
A practical tip here – map out how long your hiring process actually does take, or if it’s a new process then realistically how long it will take. Make sure that’s something that you are transparent with candidates on, to avoid implying you’ll be done in days when the reality is weeks.
Focus on inclusion and diversity
It’s so easy to start with the traditional career paths when thinking about who we need to hire, but there is a real risk this leads to a lack of diversity. PR issues aside this will damage your ability to grow and adapt in the future.
Be inclusive by design, considering how you can be flexible in your hiring process, to allow all great candidates to firstly participate and secondly to shine. How could you do this? Before you launch into recruiting for a role, agree your evaluation criteria for shortlisting. This could help avoid deciding who to progress based on familiarity and similarity to what you already have.
Finding great people is tough and even when you do secure or lose someone it might not be obvious how it happened, but I guarantee your process will have had an impact in some way. Talk to and survey the people that come through your hiring process, asking them where you made a positive and a negative impact. Talk to trusted recruiters who should be able to give you some feedback on the market and what your peers are doing.
Review your hiring process
There’s a lot of value in reviewing your overall recruitment process, working out where you’re securing and losing people. We’ve had great success in helping run a diagnostic process with companies, evaluating each stage to see how effective it is. This creates opportunities to improve your chances of attracting and securing great talent, converting your effort to results. In the meantime, plan and reflect on your hiring strategy, rather than simply dive straight in and hope for the best.
We see plenty of great candidates go to meet with great tech scaleups, but the result isn’t always what either side had hoped for. Get the above areas right as a founder, and you’ll find the talent you need to grow the business you want.